The View From My Study – 8th March 2024

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.”

In a week where we have celebrated both literature and women and considered the connection between equity and inclusion, Roald Dahl’s words seem rather appropriate. Matilda is a book of enduring relevance with lessons for us all: life is sometimes not fair but justice will often prevail; sometimes you have to stand up for yourself; and sometimes you might just have to bend the rules a little or, as I prefer to say, think outside the box.

History is full of women who have had to bend the rules to be noticed and push past the obstacles that have been in their way. Pay is still unequal in the majority of countries and a gender bias still exists, promoting stereotypes and maintaining barriers. Science is a prime example where the contributions of women have been overlooked or even mis- attributed to male colleagues. Interestingly, and coincidentally, this is known to social scientists as the “Matilda Effect” (named after the C19th author and activist Matilda Jocelyn Gage). Hopefully, through the educational opportunities we are promoting here at BG, we are producing young men and women who have a far more balanced view of the world with far fewer stereotypes and a much healthier approach to inclusion.

Although I didn’t see Miss Trunchball yesterday (thank goodness), I did see quite an array of characters ranging from Toad of Toad Hall driving his cronies, to Little Red Riding Hood, several Mr Men and several panserbjorn (armoured polar bears in case you didn’t know!). As a whole-school event, initiatives were taking place in different parts throughout the day and I genuinely think it is one of the best World Book Days I have seen. It began with a fancy dress parade before students enjoyed writing their own opening to a mystery novel based on the newly discovered chambers at BG, creating their own fantasy world, producing a tv news report, completing (or not) an escape room and attempting Miss Howe’s response to the Barkley Marathons (orienteering). In the afternoon, pupils had two hours to create a short film based on the characters people were dressed as in their group. All in all, a terrific, fun-filled and action-packed day with an important message about the value of literature.

It is an exeat this weekend after a very busy few weeks and I trust everyone can enjoy a restful couple of days.

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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